The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro has conceded his side must adapt their game and develop more strength of character if they are to satisfy lofty ambitions and challenge for major honours this season.

Spurs' serene progress through the group stage of the Europa League has masked recent domestic toils, with Newcastle United's victory at White Hart Lane representing a third defeat of the league campaign and leaving the side with only one home league goal in 341 minutes. While André Villas-Boas' side, in seventh, are only three points off second place, they carry a sense of deflation into the international break with games against Manchester City and Manchester United facing them on resumption of the Premier League.

"It will be a hard two weeks," said Sandro. "I'm very sad. For me, when I lose I feel so bad, so when I go home I keep thinking about it. We have to go to Manchester City now and win there. The Newcastle goalkeeper [Tim Krul] was amazing on the day, making a lot of saves, but when the goalkeeper is good we have to do something or try something else. The manager was angry, everyone was. It was difficult.

"It's hard but we have to win something. We have a great team and have to think all the time about winning. A loss at home is difficult [to take] and now there's a long wait. It is just at the early stages of the season but we have to change to be more strong to win something. To win the title you have to win consecutive matches. Like, from now, to win five games consecutively for this dream to come back."

Despite the summer's heavy recruitment, albeit largely funded by the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Spurs are still seeking to convince themselves they can force their way into the top four and challenge for the title. Defeating City at the Etihad Stadium and following that with victory over United a week later would increase the conviction that they can make that transition.

"If you see teams in the top four, they win a lot of games in a row, five or more," said Sandro. "We still have to do it. We did it last season but drew a lot at the end which made the difference. Now it is the time to go to Manchester City and beat them, then Manchester United. We have to win these games as we lost in this game against Newcastle. I believe we can win at City because, if we play well ourselves, we can beat any team. We have to try. We are a good team – you can see the players in the team and on the bench."